In 1787 James Wilson and Roger Sherman proposed a compromise at the Philadelphia Convention in which three-fifths of the enumerated population of slaves would be counted for representation purposes regarding both the distribution of taxes and the apportionment of the members of the United States House of Representatives. This came to an end in 1865 with the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution which abolished slavery .
While I realize there is a historical context for slavery both in America and in the Bible, as a religious Jew it is still hard to imagine the institution. How could one not recognize that every single person is created in the image of the Divine? Every single life is a whole world and necessarily not worth more or less valuable than another. While slavery is hard to imagine, for some reason the notion that there was a 78 year period in American history where one person was worth 3/5th another seems even harder to imagine. What are the implications of evaluating people’s worth in this way?
So , you ask, why the history lesson? While I am guarded optimistic and truly happy about the pending release of Gilad Shalit, I am also horrified by the deal. Long before we appropriated it as the Jewish civic religion, in the Mishna Tikkun Olam was the reason given for not to do this deal. Will this create an incentive for capturing more Jews? I would love to see Levitt and Dubner take a Freakonimics go at economic system of ransom. While this make me live in fear, this is still not what disturbs me so deeply.
It seems obvious the Palestinians will have and really deserve a land of their own. For Israel to have peace with their neighbors, their neighbors need to understand their own self worth. What is the message being given to the Palestinians in this deal? They are not even worth 3/5 a Jew. One of them is worth 1/1026th of a Jew.
In this situation, I do not fault the Shalits, Israelis, Palestinians, Jews, or Muslims. They all want to fix their own world. We all want our native sons returned. My thoughts were best described in Dr. Martin Luther King’s Letter from a Birmingham Jail. He wrote:
I must confess that over the past few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to “order” than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice.
For all of history the Jew has been scorned for imaging that s/he is chosen, but what is the market value of a Jew? And much worse then that, what has world allowed to happen to the value of the Palestinian? I realize that there are existing tensions between the two people who live in the land of Israel. I am horrified at the moderates of the world who have aided in creating this market place.
We are willing to bail out Greece, but we are not will to bail out the Palestinians. This deal like ones before it will bankrupt the national value of a people. How will we ever have peace with anything other than an equal partner?
I am not even getting into the discussions of any single one of these terrorists as compared to an IDF soldier. All I am saying is let them pick anyone they wanted, it would just have to be one for one. Where are all of the human rights people now? Do they not see the horrible injustice being perpetrated against the Palestinians by dehumanizing them to this level? While Israelis and Palestinians are responsible for the conflict and need to reach a compromise. We cannot tolerate a Three-Fifths Compromise. Humanity cannot be compromised. The equality of everyone needs to be the foundation of a lasting peace. The moderate themselves might be the great stumbling block in this stride toward freedom.